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Ach, im Maien war’s (1890) no.30


Part of a series or song cycle:

Spanisches Liederbuch: Weltliche Lieder


Ach, im Maien war’s

Ach, im Maien war’s, im Maien,
Wo die warmen Lüfte wehen,
Wo verliebte Leute pflegen
Ihren Liebchen nachzugehn.
Ich allein, ich armer Trauriger,
Lieg’ im Kerker so verschmachtet,
Und ich seh nicht, wann es taget,
Und ich weiss nicht, wann es nachtet.
Nur an einem Vöglein merkt’ ich’s,
Das dadrauss im Maien sang;
Das hat mir ein Schütz getötet –
Geb’ ihm Gott den schlimmsten Dank!

Ah, in May it was

Ah, in May it was, in Maytime,
When warm breezes blow,
When those in love are wont
To seek their loves.
I alone, sad wretch,
Languish in a dungeon cell,
And cannot tell when day dawns,
And cannot tell when night falls.
Only one little bird could tell me,
That sang out there in May;
A hunter killed it –
May God give him the worst of rewards!
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

Composer

Hugo Philipp Jacob Wolf was an Austrian composer of Slovene origin. He is particularly known for his art song, or Lieder. His Lieder display a concentrated expressive intensity unique to Wolf. 

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Poet

Paul Johann Ludwig von Heyse was a distinguished German writer and translator. A member of two important literary societies, the Tunnel über der Spree in Berlin and Die Krokodile in Munich, he wrote novels, poetry, 177 short stories, and about sixty dramas. The sum of Heyse's many and varied productions made him a dominant figure among German men of letters. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1910 "as a tribute to the consummate artistry, permeated with idealism, which he has demonstrated during his long productive career as a lyric poet, dramatist, novelist and writer of world-renowned short stories." Wirsen, one of the Nobel judges, said that "Germany has not had a greater literary genius since Goethe." Heyse is the fifth oldest laureate in literature, after Doris Lessing, Theodor Mommsen, Alice Munro and Jaroslav Seifert.
 

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